Murto: MotoGP returning to Indy

It was announced prior to Sunday’s MotoGP race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that the event will return to the facility, at least in 2014.

Some were surprised, as attendance this year was on par with last season, when 66,000 attended the race. In 2008 the inaugural event attracted more than 90,000, but that dropped in 2009 to about 75,000 and has remained steady at about 65,000 each year since.

It could be argued that the economy is to blame. After all, there really hasn’t been any economic recovery since 2008, and since the attendance has leveled off it appears to be holding its own. And fans who attended this year’s event were treated to wonderful weather and even better racing; the hardcore group of MotoGP fans will continue to support the race.

Alex Rins won the Moto3 event on his KTM. He out-raced Alex Marquez in the 250cc class.

The Moto2 race was highly entertaining. The bikes all use spec Honda 600cc power, so are relatively equal. Takaaki Nakagami dominated the race and pulled away from the field, but in doing so used up his tires and faded quickly in the final laps, only to lose to Esteve Rabat.

Rookie rider Marc Marquez rode his Honda to victory in the headlining MotoGP event, beating his teammate Dani Pedrosa. Marquez also won at Laguna Seca and in Austin, Texas, sweeping the three American races on the MotoGP calendar.

Just as there are auto racing events in the surrounding area when the Indy 500 or Brickyard 400 come to town, MotoGP wasn’t the only motorcycle racing in Indianapolis over the weekend. AMA flat track racers took to the Indy Mile dirt track, where Bryan Smith dominated the Grand National event and Shayna Texter won the pro singles feature.

Texter is expected to compete this Saturday at Colonial Downs, as she and the other star AMA flat track riders take to the 1.25-mile dirt track just outside Richmond. If you’re not going to Bristol for the Cup race, I highly recommend the AMA flat track race. There’s nothing as breathtaking as watching a rider reach over and tap another rider’s leg to let him know he’s on the outside … at 160 mph! The track is only 15 miles east of Richmond off I-64. Racing starts about 12:30 p.m. Visit colonialdowns.com for information and to purchase advance tickets.

The Nationwide race at Mid-Ohio Road Course was the best NASCAR race of the weekend, and it was good to see A.J. Allmendinger back in victory lane. Some of the “ringers,” however, such as Max Papis and Marcos Ambrose, were more like bulls in a china shop. I have definite mixed feelings when ringers start knocking regulars out of the way and costing those regulars series points.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will compete on the road course at Virginia International Raceway on Saturday. It’s a wonderful racetrack, located near Danville. Tickets are only $15. I’m sure it’ll be a good race, so if you’re interested call the track at (434) 822-7700.

Most of you not headed to Bristol will probably stay close to home, as Saturday night Winchester Speedway hosts the World of Outlaws Late Models for the 50-lap Raye Vest Memorial. Vest was the longtime car owner for popular racer Rick Eckert, from York, Pa.

Nine-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi told Fox Sports 1 in an interview at Indy that he may be interested in having a car owner so he can race in NASCAR. In 2006 he appeared to have the opportunity to race for Ferrari in F1 but declined. Does this mean we’ll see Rossi at the Indy MotoGP in 2014 and then in the Brickyard 400 in 2015? Doubtful, but you never know.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.